A Professional Sumo Bout


A professional sumo boutAt the initial charge both wrestlers must jump up from the crouch simultaneously after touching the surface of the ring with two fists at the start of the bout, and the referee can restart the bout if this simultaneous touch does not occur. Upon completion of the bout, the referee must immediately designate his decision by pointing his gunbai or war-fan towards the winning side.

The referee's decision is not final and may be disputed by the five shimpan (judges) seated around the ring. If this happens they will meet in the center of the ring to hold a mono-ii (lit: a talk about things). After reaching a consensus they can uphold or reverse the referee's decision or order a rematch, known as a torinaoshi. The wrestlers will then return to their starting positions and bow to each other before retiring. A winning wrestler in the top division may receive additional prize money in envelopes from the referee if the matchup has been sponsored. If a yokozuna is defeated by a lower ranked wrestler, it is common and expected for audience members to throw their seat cushions into the ring (and onto the wrestlers), though this practice is technically prohibited.

In contrast to the time in bout preparation, bouts are typically very short, usually less than a minute, and often only a few seconds. Extremely rarely a bout can go on for many minutes (up to four minutes), in which case the referee or one of the judges sitting around the ring may call a mizu-iri or "water break". The wrestlers are carefully separated, have a brief break and then return to the exact position they left off in. It is the referee's responsibility to reposition the wrestlers. If after four more minutes they are still deadlocked they may have a second break, after which they start from the very beginning. Further deadlock with no end of the bout in sight can lead to a draw (hikiwake), an extremely rare result in modern sumo. The last draw in the top division was in September 1974.